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Rain a welcome sight for anglers

Outdoors
By: J.D. Richey Journal Outdoors Columnist
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Wow, what a difference a week makes. We go from one of the driest winters in memory to a good solid week of winter (with more in the forecast). The rain and snow we got last week may not completely ease all the drought concerns for the upcoming dry season, but it sure helped. Prior to the big gush, there were lots of places in dire need of water – spawning flats at several lakes were high and dry before last week, but now the bass should have some nice digs for the upcoming breeding season. Over on the coast, the last waves of adult steelhead will now be able to access their spawning beds and closer to home, trout in many of our lakes and reservoirs will also be able to get upstream to lay eggs. The Sacramento, Mokelumne, American and Feather rivers were loaded with salmon and steelhead smolt earlier in the month and the predatory birds and sea lions were having a field day with them. Thanks to the high water, however, those little guys should find much safer passage out to sea… which, of course, will pay dividends in the years to come. In that same vein, we are looking at having epic salmon returns this fall — so it never hurts to have extra water in the reservoirs that can be released later to ensure a good spawn. So, the rain may have put a lot of fishing on hold for the short-term, but it’s a very good thing in the big picture. And, speaking of high water and such… Striper update This is the time of year that everybody starts getting fired up about striper fishing in the Sacramento Valley, so I figured I’d give you a quick update. I’ve been on the Sacramento River the past several days and the water is still very muddy, high and full of logs and debris. Flows are coming down quickly, however, and it should be looking much more fishable over the next several days. While fishing has been tough so far, look for things to blow up soon. There were lots of milking stripers caught as recently as last weekend down in the Rio Vista area by trollers working the Old Dairy and West Bank and all this water is going to encourage those fish to come on up the line and start spawning. Today, the Fish & Game survey crew covered 10 miles of river between Sacramento and Walnut Grove and only counted nine stripers for 35 boats. But it’s only a matter of time before things make a dramatic turn for the better, so stay tuned. Rollins trout plant The Department of Fish & Game has Rollins Lake on its trout planting route this week, so you should be able to get up there and catch some fish (if you can find some clean water). In murky conditions, fluorescent orange Kastmasters have always been good for me. If you have a two-rod stamp, toss out a slip sinker rig with Glitter Chartreuse/GarlicMarshmallows from Atlas/Mikes while you chuck hardware with your other stick. Local high schoolers win DFG film awards Some budding young local filmmakers did extremely well recently in the Department of Fish & Game’s first-ever “Bear Aware” Youth Film Contest for high school students. Nick Garner from Woodcreek High School in Roseville won second place and took home $300 for his efforts. Reece Maginn, also from Woodcreek High, earned third place and received $200. Three other films were given honorable mentions, earning the following directors $100 each: Edward Khoma and Devin Castillon, also of Woodcreek; and a team of Colfax High School students – Amanda Schafer, Maryssa DeVille and Erin Bresnahan. The “Bear Aware” Film Contest was the first step in a larger public outreach campaign to raise awareness about the importance of securing food and trash while in black bear habitat. You can see the films at: www.dfg.ca.gov/BearFilmContest/TopFilms.html. J.D. Richey is a 1986 Placer High graduate whose outdoors pieces have been published nationally. Find him online at www.fishwithjd.com.